During the current financial climate, a lot of people and businesses are feeling the squeeze on their income, and care homes are no exception. With rising energy prices and inflation, care homes are under more and more pressure to continue providing their services to those that need them, while still paying their staffing costs, utility bills and other essential outgoings.
The COVID-19 pandemic introduced a large number of unforeseen costs, which included the increased need for PPE, testing and staffing costs due to positive test results or quarantining. While financial support was put in place for some time, this has now been stopped, and despite the lower number of cases, there is still some need for these in the interests of preparedness and vigilance.
Staffing has been an issue since Brexit, with many staff not being able to work in the UK any more as a result of visa implications, or because some decided to return to their home country. Rises in national insurance contributions and national minimum wage have also added extra costs, with the rises in funding not being proportionate, leaving a shortfall. In some cases, lack of available staff has resulted in homes finding it necessary to rely on agencies for support, though this also has a financial implication due to higher costs.
Energy costs continue to be the subject of much scrutiny, with almost everyone finding their bills increasing by a large percentage. While there are support schemes in place for domestic customers, care homes do not have any similar support, meaning that bills could rise by 50% or more. Food and equipment costs have also increased in the last few years, with food costs rising by as much as 20%, and equipment by 25%, putting further strain on what are already strained finances.
Budgeting for care homes can also be a tricky endeavor, as unlike other businesses who budget according to periods, financial years and such like, they cannot easily do so due to the ebb and flow of residents under their care, which can be very difficult to predict. There is no defined endpoint that a budget can cover, and care homes are also a 24 hour a day, 7 days a week business, meaning their costs will naturally be higher than most who are open during ‘normal’ business hours.
While fee increases are never ideal, most care homes will be applying higher level increases in order to try and combat these issues. We spend a lot of time calculating these increases to ensure that they are as fair as possible, and that we can continue to provide the highest levels of care that our residents both require and deserve.